Michael Jordan as God: idolatry and all-giving love

Five For Fighting is primarily known for its single “Superman (It’s Not Easy)”. I love a good take on Superman. FFF’s “Superman” is, I think, my favorite use of Superman in a song. I’m sure I’ll write about it some time. And I really should do a post about Joseph Torchia’s “The Kryptonite Kid”, my favorite use of Superman as a symbol in a novel.

This post is not about Superman or “Superman”, though. This is about another Five For Fighting song, “Michael Jordan” — a little song, by comparison, and a seemingly simple one.

The song is, nearly entirely, a list of things that the singer would give to be Michael Jordan.

My shirt, my hat, my books
A trip to the zoo
My couch, remote, a large coke yea
I’d get on my knees, my God,
If I could

I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give to be you

In the beginning, the list of things is not very impressive. Note that here, at the outset, he references religion by saying that he’d get on his knees. We can take “my God” a number of ways; is it an exclamation, like “my word” or “great googly-moogly”, or something more?

My job, my car, my cash
My house on the hill
My piano, I’d burn to ashes (yea)
I’d get on my knees, my God,
If I could

I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give to be you

The list gets somewhat more impressive. For an artist to offer to destroy the instrument of his creativity and expression, in this case burning his piano to ashes, represents a serious sacrifice. Note the repetition of the last two lines in the first section.

My voice, my worm, my wife
A first born or two
I’d give the knife, my Mike if just,
Cut me at the knees
My God (My Jordan)

I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give anything
I would give to be you

In the final verse, the singer goes further; now he’d give up his voice itself, the internal instrument of his self-expression (as opposed to the external piano), his generative organ (another source of self-expression and legacy creation), and his wife. Calling to mind the story of Abraham and Isaac he offers to “give the knife” to “a first born or two”.

This time, the line, “I’d get on my knees, my God,” is replaced with, “Cut me at the knees / My God (My Jordan)”. The singer is conflating the two; Michael Jordan is his God. He’s on his knees before Michael Jordan.

On one hand: Idolatry.
On the other hand: Wow, he would sacrifice everything he has and everything he is to be more like “God”.

I’m going to look on the bright side and say that his all-giving worship for the divine is admirable, albeit mis-directed.

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